Being on a diet is a lot like running a marathon. Runners talk about hitting a wall—getting to spots in a race where they find it hard to go on. Dieters hit trouble spots, too. There are times when motivation is low, or a week or two goes by with little or no progress, despite all your efforts.
All dieters hit obstacles. Simply knowing this and understanding that there are ways to cope can ensure your ultimate success.
When you are painting yourself into the picture of a slimmer, fitter you, there will be times you’ll find yourself coloring outside the lines. When this happens:
Take action immediately to get back to your goals. One day of overeating or a day or two without exercise does not make you a failure and will not blow all your efforts.
Don’t punish yourself for mistakes. Fasting, drastically cutting calories or adding an unreasonable amount of exercise to make up for mistakes simply sets the stage for failure. Forgive yourself for being human and get back to your dieting and exercise goals.
Forget willpower. Use strategies. If we could will ourselves to be thin, we’d all be slim. Stick with sensible food choices, eat moderate portion sizes, exercise daily, and appreciate that change doesn’t happen overnight.
Pull out a piece of clothing that reminds you of where you started. Don’t keep a fat and skinny wardrobe—a reserve of comfortable bigger sizes makes backsliding too easy. But do save one item from your pre-weight-loss days. When you feel down, put on it on and see how far you’ve come. As you slim down, give away larger sizes. This helps keep you focused on the goals you’ve set.
Appreciate that habits are hard to break—but not impossible. Set your own weight loss and exercise goals. Don’t do it for your husband or your friends. Changes in behavior are more likely to be lasting when you make those changes for yourself.
Think about what, how, and why you eat. Few of us eat simply because we are hungry. To find and change the triggers that make you overeat, you need to examine the emotions, situations, and places that cause you to eat too much. Keeping an eating log often reveals behaviors that need changing.
Watch the clock. Eating too often or going for long stretches without food are equally destructive; both may cause you to eat too much. Many people need to build structure back into their eating behavior with regular meals and snacks. Keep track of how often and how much you eat for a few days. You may be amazed at what you learn.
Remember: You count! For some of us that is the hardest thing to learn. Make your dieting goals and exercise plan a priority. Don’t always put your needs last.